Justification for Teaching:

James Dashner's The Maze Runner is another successful young-adult dystopian novel in the vein of books like The Giver and The Hunger Games. One reason to teach this book is to help your students think about the elements in today's society that are contributing to the popularity of dystopian science-fiction. 1984 revealed fears of totalitarianism, and Fahrenheit 451 described a world in which people used technologies to isolate themselves from others and for escapism, not to better themselves or the world. What does The Maze Runner say about the world as it is today?

In writing ​The Maze Runner​, James Dashner was strongly influenced by Lord of the Flies, and you can draw parallels between Dashner's work and Golding's classic. The Maze Runner can be read in conjunction with Lord of the Flies, or you could compare passages from one to the other to help students study it.

The Maze Runner is great for reluctant readers — especially boys — it's a propulsive novel, full of mysteries that will keep your students turning pages.

Key Literary Elements & Techniques

  • Suspense
  • Imagery
  • Tone

Themes and Motifs

  • Identity — Before the boys are tossed into the Glade, their memories are erased. Thomas wants to know who he is and where he came from.
  • Freedom — Some of the boys want to regain their freedom, some are content with their relatively safe lives.
  • Survival — The boys must learn to survive on their own, building their own society in the process.

Key Facts

  • Length: 375 pages
  • Lexile® Measure: 770L
  • Recommended Grades: 5+
  • Publication Date: 2007


  • New York Times Bestseller
  • A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year


A movie based on The Maze Runner was released on September 19, 2014. It received mostly favorable reviews.

External Resources:

The Maze Runner (Wikipedia)

Author's website (jamesdashner.com)

Video interview with the author (Author Magazine)

Movie Trailer (YouTube)

Your Students will love:

  • The feeling of delving into the unknown they'll get from reading this book — what's inside the maze? Who put the boys in the Glade, and why? This suspenseful read will keep them turning pages.

Students may have problems with:

  • The slang invented for the book — The characters in The Maze Runner use slang words invented by the author, and this results in some unnatural-sounding dialogue

Available from Prestwick House:


The Maze Runner — Paperback

The Maze Runner Book Cover